For a very brief overview of some areas of LA with their pros and cons:
Beverly Hills- the ritziest neighborhood with the most famous address (90210), it is mostly inhabited by real life movie stars and millionaires with most of the homes guarded by walls and security
Brentwood- This neighborhoods central location makes a bit expensive
Fairfax- Jewish Quarter and has historic "Kosher Canyon Farmer's Market"
Griffith Park - One of the biggest city parks of the nation, lies east toward the mountains and offers the Zoo and Griffith Observatory
Pasadena - This area is a bit warmer, but farther east out of town. The 1st highway in California was built here in 1940.
San Fernando Valley - Commonly called "the Valley", the area is actually made up of some smaller cities such as Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Reseda, Tarzana, Van Nuys, Northridge, Granada Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Woodland Hills. Most places are fairly pretty, very safe, and rent is cheaper then most other areas. The downside is that the temperatures can get much higher then closer to the beach and without transportation life in the Valley can be a bit slow.
Santa Monica - To be in this beautiful and touristy area you must pay higher prices
South Central - A diverse area originally filled by the black community, it is now 70% Latino
West Hollywood - Currently the hip/trendy/gay area, but prices remain reasonable
Westwood - UCLA's location within the district mean many college-age residents with decent housing and living costs
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